Senate Passes on Hemmerdinger for Port Authority Gig
Eliot Brown April 20, 2010, 6:05 p.m.
H. Dale Hemmerdinger is finding it’s not so easy to stay involved in public service.
The real estate executive and longtime Democratic donor ceded his seat as chairman of the M.T.A. as part of a restructuring last summer, making way for new CEO/Chairman Jay Walder. Governor Paterson then offered up an apparent consolation prize: In October, he nominated Mr. Hemmerdinger for a seat on the Port Authority’s board—long a landing pad for political donors and onetime government officials.
However, the state Senate, which must confirm the nomination, is not eager to allow Mr. Hemmerdinger in for a second swing at state government. When the Senate approved a set of nominations last week, Mr. Hemmerdinger didn’t make the list.
“There wasn’t support in the committee to approve the nomination,” said Graham Parker, a spokesman for Senate Transportation committee chairman Martin Dilan, said. “The nomination was held.”
Mr. Parker declined to elaborate, but perhaps some suggestions lie in Mr. Hemmerdinger’s confirmation hearing, which offered a display of perennial legislator-M.T.A. tensions.
He had something of a contentious back-and-forth with state Senator Andrew Lanza, a Staten Island Republican, in which Mr. Hemmerdinger struggled to name concrete accomplishments during his tenure. Mr. Lanza then let fly some of his feelings about the M.T.A. leadership:
“I just felt that when you were chair of the M.T.A. that you did not consider it part of your responsibility to be forthcoming with information about the policies of the M.T.A., or responding to the riders or elected officials.”
Mr. Hemmerdinger’s response: He met with every elected official who asked for a meeting, adding, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Mr. Lanza: “I’m sorry you feel that way, too.”
In the meantime, the Senate did confirm Governor Paterson’s nominee for a second slot on the Port Authority board, which now has one vacant slot left. Real estate attorney Jeffrey Moerdler, the head of the New York real estate practice at Mintz Levin and the son of Charles Moerdler, will take a seat on the board. Among others, his clients include the Spitzer family’s real estate firm.